After a delay of a year and a half, the latest James Bond film "No Time To Die" is finally rolling into theaters this week - and it may be an indicator of how cinemas recover from the global health crisis.
Advanced ticket sales at UK based-cinema chains, Odeon and Cineworld, have hit levels last seen in 2019, setting it up to the biggest opening since Avengers: Endgame that year - before the world's theaters were forced shut.
AMC-owned Odeon, says it has already sold more than 175,000 tickets, adding that attendance in its UK venues this month was tracking 10% above pre-crisis levels.
"No Time to Die" may lure older viewers back to the big screen, in particular. Odeon has said more than one-third of the tickets were booked by people over the age of 46.
Cinema operators had been banking on the popularity of the decades-old Bond franchise to reinvigorate the sector which has been struggling to get back on its feet, partly due to the health crisis, but also because of competition from streaming services.
Phil Clapp is the Chief Executive of the UK Cinema Association.
''I think there's a hope that Bond will get those admissions back to at least the levels we are seeing in 2019 and hopefully beyond those. I think there's also an understanding that all the expectations in the industry can't rest on the shoulders of one film, no matter how big that film is."
The 25th instalment in the Bond franchise sees Daniel Craig return for a fifth and final outing as the suave British secret agent. He believes the movie will have a positive impact.
"The past 18 months have been a pretty terrible time for everybody and so it's just sort of, you have to be just calm and the great thing is we're here, we got to this point and we can actually now put it into the cinema and that just feels, that's just, I mean, all gravy from now on."
The world premiere is in London.